Maintaining peak UV performance

UV systems, like other complex converting machinery, require properly specified spare parts and maintenance regimes to attain full efficiency.

It is always tempting to keep presses and ancillary machinery running for as long as possible, ignoring manufacturers’ recommended service and maintenance guidelines. This is never a sensible strategy, leading to stressed components and unplanned maintenance when the machine or component breaks down. Ultimately, this has a negative impact on UV performance.

Similar comments apply to buying spare parts not recommended (or warranted) by the original machine manufacturer. Costs may be saved in the short run, but there will be no comeback against the original component supplier if the replacement part fails or falls off in performance. Furthermore, suppliers closely match consumables to hardware to provide the most efficient overall system operation.

The issue was raised in a recent statement from one of the UK’s leading privately held label converters, Olympus Print Group in Leeds. Olympus has invested in several high-spec Nilpeter FA-4 combination presses with GEW-made E2C UV curing systems, offering UV flexo, UV digital and UV screen printing and hot/cold foiling. As previously reported in Labels & Labeling magazine, with the set-up Olympus realised substantial power savings and has been able to achieve high lamp durability.

Traditional mercury arc lamps are the workhorses of the UV label printing industry, but obviously have a finite working life. By choosing the correct product and only genuine manufacturer’s spare parts, Olympus has found that life expectancy can be significantly higher than commonly assumed.

Confirms Olympus managing director Adrian Brown, ‘We achieved the extra-long life cycles of these UV lamps by using authentic GEW parts and by running the system at the correct power level rather trying to work at full power.’ Olympus’ Prism management information system allows management to keep track of shift activities, when the press is running or idle, when in standby and when down for other reasons. ‘We have virtually 100 percent UV efficiency and ever since installation no downtime because of lamp failure – and that’s running three shifts five days a week,’ says Brown.

It is the overall system which is key: the high energy efficiency of the E2C lamps’ tuned reflectors, the Rhino electronic power supply and the fact that Olympus runs its complex multi-process jobs at around half full press speed, means the lamps are able to be operated at roughly 40 percent of full power and are proven to last in excess of 5,000 hours, often up to 7,000 hours.

Olympus uses only genuine spares to ensure the longevity of the system. ‘The last thing you want with spares is surprises,’ says Adrian Brown. ‘GEW lamps and spares bring us reliability, longevity and peace of mind.’

Negative impact

Malcolm Rae, managing director of GEW, agrees: ‘Look-alike parts do not reach the same quality level as genuine GEW parts and they can often have a negative impact on the life-cycles users can expect and in extreme cases they can even damage the UV system, adding additional cost in replacing parts. Using the original manufacturer’s parts avoids the unnecessary risk of costly production downtime, which can jeopardize product quality, productivity and profit margins. They are designed, built and tested specifically for GEW UV systems, so peak performance is achieved at all times.’

Rae points out that manufacturers like GEW are now supplying remote monitoring systems which require the use of approved manufacturers’ parts: ‘Unplanned maintenance leading to machine downtime due to component failure can to a large extent be eliminated by making full use of the Embedded Service technology found in GEW’s Rhino powered UV systems.’

The Embedded Service package allows remote monitoring of the UV system’s running conditions over the internet, allowing GEW service engineers to detect and correct out of tolerance parameters before they can develop into a fault. This type of remote preventive maintenance ensures the entire UV system operates at peak performance at all times, and this allows GEW to offer a comprehensive five year warranty.

Rae concludes that genuine spare parts are required to guarantee UV performance, reliability and safety: ‘GEW invests substantial amounts every year in the research, development and optimization of products and components. Generic parts are not designed and tested to the same quality controls standards and although the parts may look the same, their origin and quality remain unknown and undefined.

‘Any machine stoppage due to the use of unapproved generic parts may result in consequential damage to other machine components and severely affect production and profit margins. Any superficial cost advantage will never compensate the significant differences in terms of quality, reliability and durability between genuine manufacturer’s part and the generic alternative. Tempting as it may be the use of generic parts may have a considerable impact on production quality and machine reliability.’

To learn more about the measurement of UV curing systems, read UV expert Jennifer’s Heathcote’s article on quantifying the energy emitted by UV curing systems.